Passing the GMAT and getting accepted to one of the best business schools is not easy.
To get into one of the top 30 MBA programs in the US, you’d need a minimum score of 680, and a GPA of 3,5. And then, the acceptance rate still hovers somewhere around only 20%.That’s why many students decide to take advantage of the GMAT prep courses provided by the Princeton Review. I can honestly say that the course delivers on its promise and will definitely help you boost your score.
In this review, you’ll find all the necessary information about its effectiveness, features, pricing, and how it stacks up against the competition.
At this point Princeton Review offers two options (check for discounts):
1. The live-online “Ultimate” GMAT course with 27 hours of instruction
2. The less expensive self-paced course with 10,5 hours of live Q&A sessions
But which one is better and are they fully comprehensive? Let’s find out.
Related content: The 4 best GMAT prep courses to take
#1: Ultimate GMAT Course
This is the most popular course option and actually, the most recommended one. Yes, it’s a bit pricey as you’ll need to pay around $1399 for it (you can check the current prices here). But there’s a saying in the GMAT prep community – don’t be penny wise and pound foolish.
It’s much better to invest in a comprehensive course and get the score you want on your first try than to retake the exam and pay another $250 for your next try.
This course is the best option from TPR because it includes 27 hours of live instruction and interaction with other students. This kind of learning environment creates the right kind of “vibe” where you can actually absorb the knowledge much easier.
It’s all about doing the work “as a team” that will help you to see the problems from different angles and learn how to solve them.
Here you’ll get 27 hours of instruction (either in-class or live-online) in a group of 6-15 students. Actually, the bigger the class the better. If you decide to sign-up, decide that you’re going to speak up and interact as much as possible.
The “spoon-feeding” approach to learning is the least effective, and that’s why you need to ask questions and be engaged if you want to get the most out of this course.
There’s one class each week, and each one is 3 hours long. In total, the live course lasts for around 3 months, but you’ll get access to all the materials for 4 months.
That’s great because the live classes will give you a good foundation for understanding the GMAT concepts. And then you’ll still have one month to crunch through the full-length tests and adaptive online drills. (You’ll get 10 full-length computer-adaptive tests in total.)
The classes are always scheduled for the late afternoon during the workweek or Saturdays, so they won’t interfere with your schedule. But remember, the course itself is not enough. You should be prepared to put in 2 hours of self-study each workday and 4 hours each Saturday from 3-4 months leading up to the test.
Who is this course for?
- Students who are willing to pay a bit more for a comprehensive, yet easy-to-follow prep course.
- Students who thrive in a live learning environment.
- Students who need a good refresher when it comes to data sufficiency and problem-solving.
- Non-native English students, who need a deeper understanding of the verbal reasoning part.
#2: GMAT Connect “Hybrid” Course
This is a new prep option which is a curious combination between a self-prep course with some hours of live Q&A sessions. It actually gives you a good way to study if your schedule is too busy to accommodate a 27-hour live-online course.
Here, for around $499 you’ll get access to all three modules (quantitative, verbal, and integrated reasoning), plus 10,5 hours of live Q&A sessions. If you want, you can pick the modules separately (at $299 each), but it’s much better to take the comprehensive option as it gives you more value for the money.
If you sign up, you’ll have a 1:1 personal tutor assigned to you. Then you’d be able to schedule a 1-hour session with him or her to ask your well-prepared questions about the GMAT.
The live Q&A sessions (10,5 hours) is something a bit different. By attending them, you’ll join other students and ask about specific issues and problems regarding the test. It’s a good way to get clarification on the most pressing matters without having to spend over $1000 on a course.
But the main strength of this option lies in the self-prep materials. These include 10 full-length computer adaptive practice tests, 100+ video lessons, 91+ quick review lessons, 83+ GMAT adaptive drills, and the GMAC Official Guide.
It’s recommended that you complete all the practice tests before you attempt the real exam. They’re all computer-adaptive and Princeton Review is really good at creating a genuine testing experience. It’s actually similar to what you’ll see on the real test.
The drills are also great. After completing them, you’ll see how’s your score on each section and then focus on areas with the highest potential score-yield.
Overall, it’s a nice little course, similar to what you would get from Magoosh or The Economist. But here you have the added bonus of 1-hour 1-to-1 session and 10,5 hours of live Q&A sessions. All of that, plus the neat online dashboard makes it a good prep option.
Who is this course for?
- Students who don’t have enough time to attend the full live-online course, but still want to get a solid prep.
- Students for whom the budget issue is important (they don’t want to spend over $1000 on a course).
- Students who still want to have a certain degree of live interaction with a tutor and other pupils.
The pricing of the TPR’s GMAT courses is quite similar to what you would get from other test prep companies.
The comprehensive live-online course is $1399, and the self-prep course with all the modules included is $499. That’s pretty reasonable for courses that give you many hours of live interaction along with premium study materials.
All the fees for the courses have to be paid upfront unless you decide on the “private tutoring” option which allows you to spread the payments over a few months.
There are two private tutoring options:
- 18 hours – $167 per hour – $3000 in total
- 10 hours – 180 per hour – $1800 in total
These tutoring packages are fine, but I still think that the main live-online course with 27 hours of instruction for $1399 is the top option to pick.
Here’s a quick comparison between the prices of the popular GMAT courses:
|Princeton Review (live-online)||Kaplan (live-online)||Magoosh (self-paced)||The Economist Tutor (self-paced)||Manhattan Prep (self-paced)||Exam Pal (self-paced)|
|$1399 – you can get $200 off with a coupon code||$1449||$249||$899||$549||$440|
The two popular prep courses come with a variety of different features. But sometimes it’s easy to get confused and miss out on some important elements of the offer.
Here are all of the top features of the courses at a glance:
|Princeton Review GMAT Ultimate||Princeton Review Connect “Hybrid” Self-Paced GMAT Course|
|Price||Check the price here (discounts available)||Check the price here (discounts available)|
|Live classroom time||27 hours of live instruction spread over 9 sessions||10,5 hours of live Q&A sessions + 1 hour of live 1 to 1 tutoring|
|Books||3 textbooks (in-class, verbal, quant)||GMAC Official Guide|
|Full-length practice tests||10 computer adaptive practice tests||10 computer adaptive practice tests|
|Length of online access||4 months||4 months|
|On-demand video lessons||Yes, 100+ video-based lessons||Yes, 100+ video-based lessons|
|Score improvement guarantee||Yes, a higher score and 100% satisfaction guarantee||Yes, a higher score and 100% satisfaction guarantee|
|Student portal / GMAT forum||Yes||Yes|
|Access to instructor outside of class||Yes, email assistance||Yes, email assistance|
|Reports and analytics||Yes||Yes|
|GMAT Essay Feedback||Yes, unlimited markings||Yes, unlimited markings|
It’s hard to find a course that would satisfy all your needs. It’s great to know about the advantages, as well as the disadvantages of moving forward with TPR. In general, pros outweigh the cons, but take a look for yourself:
1. Lots of live-instruction time in small to medium groups
27 hours of interactive instruction is a lot, especially for just a little bit over $1000. The next course with a similar amount of study time is the one from Kaplan, but it’s around $400 more expensive.
Studying with a teacher and other engaged students is one of the best ways to boost your score beyond the 700 point range. Just remember to prepare some of your questions in advance, and be ready to get active in the class. That’s how you get the most benefit out of the experience.
2. A score-improvement guarantee
It’s not like your dream score is going to be guaranteed no matter what. But the basic guarantee from Princeton Review is good insurance overall.
First, if you don’t improve your score on the real exam (compared to your previous score or the practice test), you’re eligible to get your money back. Second, if you’re not 100% satisfied with the course, you can repeat it at no extra cost.
3. GMAT “Hard Math” 700+ workshops
The “hard math” workshops come as a bonus with the “ultimate” live course. They’re perfect for students who are aiming to get into one of the top 20 b-schools in the country, or people who need extra math practice.
The workshops include 2,5 hours of live sessions, dealing with particularly hard math questions, 300+ practice questions, 18 drills, and 12 time-management drills that will help you with pacing.
4. 10 Full-length practice tests
This is more practice tests than you would get with any other company. Other prep options in the market give you 2 to 6 practice tests, but definitely not 10. Each full GMAT is around 4 hours in length, so that’s around 40 hours of practice you’re getting here.
It’s important that you complete as many of these tests as possible because will boost your score the most. After each one, you’ll see exactly how you performed on each section and measure your improvement over time.
5. Feedback on your GMAT essay
That’s another cool feature that you won’t get almost anywhere else. The analytical writing assessment (AWA) is important and it’s graded on a scale of 0-6. This section of the test is particularly difficult for non-native English speakers.
With the TPR courses, you can submit your essays and receive detailed feedback from a GMAT expert within 3-5 business days. You’ll receive a score, plus instructions that will let you improve your writing skills. >>
6. Fantastic video explanations for each of the questions
The video lessons are built in an impressive way and connected to the drills. For example, if you pick the wrong answer on a practice question, you’ll be able to watch a video about that given concept, and understand exactly how to approach it. This will allow you to understand the core concepts at a much deeper level.
1. Lack of a great mobile study app
Princeton Review is a big company and you would expect a great mobile app from their side. Unfortunately, as of today, this is not the case. The mobile app only allows you to check your performance reports, along with schedules for your next classes, but no more than that. To remedy this shortcoming, I suggest you download one of the free GMAT prep apps like the ones from Ready4 GMAT or Magoosh. These are great if you like to practice a bit while on the go.
2. Sometimes an uneven quality of live instruction
Instructors hired by the Princeton Review all scored in the 95th percentile (or higher) on the GMAT. At a glance, this makes them qualified to teach the best strategies for the test.
But sometimes they still lack sufficient experience to be able to impart this knowledge onto you. Fortunately, if you find you’re not satisfied with the level of instruction, you can always ask to join another group.
All courses from the Princeton Review come with an “Official GMAT Guide” in an e-book version. If you want to grab the book on your own, you’d need to pay $49 for it, but here you get it as a part of the course.
The book contains “retired” questions from past GMATs as well as over 130 new questions with detailed explanations. It’s a great supplement to the full course.
Also, with the live-online course, you’ll get three other prep books. These include:
- GMAT In-Class Manual
- Quantitative Review Textbook
- Verbal Review Textbook
These books are designed to supplement your study efforts and give you extra materials when it’s time to study on your own.
Helping students with business school applications is a lucrative business. That’s why many GMAT prep companies mushroomed around the world. There are a few viable alternatives to the course offered by Princeton Review.
You may try your luck with self-prep options from companies like Magoosh or The Economist GMAT Tutor. The first one is really affordable ($249) and offers a fantastic app you can use to complete practice questions on the go.
That’s an advantage over the TPR which doesn’t really rely on mobile learning yet. The course from The Economist is more expensive (there are three different pricing tiers), and it comes with a nice performance-based guarantee.
Then there’s always the GMAT course from Kaplan if you’re looking for another live-online or in-person option. But if you compare the features, you’ll find that the course from TPR is more user-friendly and offers more materials.
All in all, it’s always better to invest in a live course, and perhaps use self-prep materials as a supplement. The “live vibe” you’ll get from interaction will help you remember things better and tackle difficult questions more easily.
Related content: The 4 Best GMAT Prep Courses To Take
Also, don’t forget about YouTube, as it has tons of great videos with valuable information about passing the test:
There are many amazing GMAT prep options available on the market right now. It’s good to take advantage of the course offered by Princeton Review, as long as you pick the live-online or in-person options. Spending lots of time interacting with a teacher and other students is definitely one of the best ways to boost your score.
And don’t rely only on the TPR’s materials when going through your prep. It’s best to attack the questions from many different angles to maximize your chances of success. Also, don’t hope that a course will solve all of your problems. In the end, it’s all about your level of self-discipline and the amount of time you’re willing to put in that matter.